© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
ICIR 2012 Investigations: An Illegal University Racket
Illegal Satellite campus of Imo State University closed after ICIR investigation is published
For the third week running, we flash back to one of the investigative reports done by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR. This week, we look at our story, Imo State University, Private Firm Scam Students, an expose on what officials of the National Universities Commission, NUC, called an illegal satellite campus.
This intriguing investigation started with information passed to the Centre through ileak, a whistle blowing, crowd sourcing tool on our website by an anonymous source.
Subsequent investigations revealed that a private firm, Diamond Lecture Centre, has for years operated an illegal satellite campus and had been admitting students and running courses purportedly for the Imo State University.
Called the Imo State University, Abuja Satellite Campus, the institution, which had been run by Diamond Centre for years, is by all definitions an illegal entity.
Every year, the firm admited thousands of unwary students in management science courses for a tuition fee of N80,000. At the time of our investigation, the illegal campus had up to 2,000 students with lectures held in the dilapidated classrooms of Festival Primary School, in Area 10, Garki, Abuja.
The institution is also believed to have graduated some 10,000 students in the last few years but our findings show that such graduates have not been able to get jobs with the certificates they are issued.
Many of the students were found to be professional working men and women who would not have time to undertake a normal course of study in a university. The lectures which are held on weekends are just perfect for such busy people.
Apart from the run down classrooms where lectures were held, students who spoke to us confided that the quality of teaching was appalling with lecturers operating mainly by selling handouts to the undergraduates.
The NUC declared to our reporter that the satellite campus was illegal. It claimed that it was not aware of its existence. The commission’s head of public relations, Yakassai Ibrahim, who spoke to our reporter in Abuja, said that the campus was illegal because neither the Imo State University nor Diamond Centre has an approval to run courses there.
“We are not aware of that campus. I can tell you that nobody has any approval to run any such satellite campus” Ibrahim said, adding that “we will close down any such campus if we discover it.”
He said further that “any degree awarded by such an institution is illegal and of no use. It cannot be used to seek employment in Nigeria or anywhere else in the world.”
The authorities of the Imo State University also denied knowledge that the campus existed.
“Imo State University does not have any satellite campus in Abuja. I am not aware. What I know is that we have wound down all our long distance learning programmes,” the PRO said to our reporter on the phone.
But we could not talk to the man at the centre of the fake university saga as he dodged all attempts to get him to comment on the matter. N.A. Odunze, ownwe of Diamond Centre, declined speaking with or meeting our reporter.
After our story was published on September 12, 2012, Odunze tried to relocate his illegal university campus but he was unsuccessful. Apparently after the scandal blew open, students made frantic enquiries from the university authorities who confirmed that the campus did not have any legal backing. Thus the company has since been forced to close down the institution.
But one curious thing happened that has fuelled our suspicion that the Imo State University was aware of the existence of the illegal satellite campus and might have colluded with its founders to swindle innocent students.
We have since learnt that final year students of the illegal campus were taken to the Imo State University campus in Owerri for their final examinations after paying a fee.
The students have also been asked to submit their final year projects to the Owerri campus of the university.
Even then, our story not only exposed the illegal satellite campus but also forced it to close down.